Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced a federal investment of over $4 million in Saskatoon on Tuesday for agronomy research through the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).
It will be matched with more than $1.9 million from WGRF itself, and $1.5 million from grower groups and industry partners, bringing total funding for the second iteration of the integrated crop agronomy research cluster to around $7.6 million.
The federal funding comes from the AgriScience cluster program, which is part of the new five-year Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership that launched in April.
The original integrated agronomy cluster, announced by Minister MacAulay during a 2018 visit to Saskatoon, received total funding of around $9 million, including $6.3 million from the federal government.
Research projects will focus on agronomic issues to improve sector profitability, increase carbon sequestration, reduce nitrous oxide emissions, and enhance resilience to climate change and herbicide resistance, says WGRF.
WGRF chair and Saskatchewan farmer Laura Reiter notes crop production challenges cannot always be addressed by studying individual crops, and that it’s important to include the interaction of crops within a cropping system.
“This cluster provides WGRF the opportunity to continue funding multi-crop agronomic research that will ultimately provide farmers valuable insight and tools as they tackle widespread agronomic challenges,” she says.
“The experience in collaboratively developing this application and the positive outcomes of the first agronomy cluster motivated us to believe that there is more to be accomplished through continuing this funding collaboration,” says Wayne Thompson, WGRF executive director.
“Agronomic practices that support resilient and profitable crop production are vital to our sector and to Canada’s economy. This important research that will be done across the country through this cluster will help to give farmers better solutions to the agronomic challenges they face, while improving profitability and incorporating climate-friendly practices to keep the sector well-positioned for the future,” says MacAulay, in a news release.
Collaborating research organizations include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation, the University of Alberta, Brandon University, University of Manitoba, Manitoba Agriculture and the University of Saskatchewan.
The grower groups that are partnering in funding the cluster include Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Grains, Manitoba Canola Growers Association, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, Prairie Oat Growers Association, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.